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Friday, January 30, 2009

Hockey Log

Searing, seething Huskies on horizon

Yet another potential battle for long-term bubble preservation shall occupy the PC women this weekend as they engage in a home-and-home series with nationally eighth-ranked Connecticut, starting with tomorrow afternoon’s 1:00 draw at Schneider Arena.

And yet another score of statistical twins will confront them. Their sturdier national collateral aside, the Huskies trail the Friars by a point in the league leaderboard. Both programs’ mid-to-upper-class posture in the standings is reflected in most every major category from defense to discipline to special teams’ net.

And yet again, it shall be the same, condensed mental methodology.

“Everyone needs to be focused on and off the ice,” said junior defender Colleen Martin. “We’ve grown in the past months, and we know what it takes to be successful. So as long as we’re all focused on the one goal –and we all have it in our hearts- we can play our best hockey that we can at this time.”

No one, though, has flaunted their recent growth or savored success quite as conspicuously as the opposing Huskies. Dating back to the final week of November, UConn has deftly woven a hot string of 11 wins in 12 tries, enhancing a once-.500 record of 6-6-2 to 17-7-2.

And the same old acetylene suspects are anchoring the near-constant pillage. Concomitant with the program’s collective tear, junior co-captain Dominique Thibault has an active scoring streak of 10 games –albeit interposed by her holiday Eurotrip to the MLP Cup with the Canadian U-22 team- during which she has kindled 11 goals and 15 points.

Thibault’s classmate and linemate Michelle Binning has put her name to 10 of the last dozen scoresheets, charging up a 6-6-12 log in that space of time.

Cristin Allen, the WHEA’s highest-scoring defensive player, has 10 points in her last 11 ventures and a 5-16-21 transcript on the year.

Given that bill of talking points, there lies little-to-nada new on the Friars’ answer key against their western border rivals.

“You have it approach it just like every other game. You can’t take any teams for granted,” said Martin. “They’re playing well, we’re playing well. This is probably our best hockey that we’ve been playing (all year). So as long as we can continue to build on last weekend (a home-and-home sweep of Boston University), probably our best weekend and just continue on to this weekend.

“They’re a strong, physical team. (But) we just need to play them like we would play any other team.”

Mirroring masks
This weekend’s projected goaltending matchup of Genevieve Lacasse and Brittany Wilson equals stern grounds for a quintessentially titanic tilt in the cage, not unlike what they presented at Schneider Arena in mid-November, when the Friars tipped the scale on a late third period 5-on-3 segment towards a 2-0 triumph.

That marked the Friar freshman’s first career shutout, a collection she has since swollen to five, including three in as many Saturday home ventures this month. The UConn senior counters with five eggs of her own, including back-to-back zaps on Northeastern last week.

As of yesterday, against conference cohabitants, Lacasse and Wilson have four shutouts apiece, trailing only Boston College blocker Molly Schaus’ six. Lacasse is tops under the headings of both goals-against average (1.10) and save-percentage (.958). Wilson falls in second and third in those respective categories, brandishing a GAA of 1.26 and stoppage rate of .939.

Wilson and Lacasse are the two winningest stoppers on the WHEA schedule with respective percentages of .850 and .800.

And finally, they are the only Hockey East goalies with any assists on the year, Wilson having scraped out three, Lacasse one.

Quick Feeds: With 127 and 118 respective shots on net, Thibault and Binning are the league’s second and third most frequent puckslingers. Binning also leads all Hockey Easterners with seven game-winning goals…Live video streaming will be offered for tomorrow’s game via friars.com…Tomorrow’s clash between PC and UConn’s Skating Sororities will likely wrap up within an hour of the 4:00 tip-off between their male basketball peers at Gampel Pavilion.…Part II of this series –slated to commence at 1 p.m. Sunday at Freitas Ice Forum- will be UConn’s day to observe the third annual Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer charity. The Friars will subsequently observe the event in their barn a week from tonight against Northeastern, as will the Hub Huskies the following evening when the teams tangle at Matthews Arena next Saturday night.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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